Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image A water strider floats on the waters of Tooele’s Settlement Canyon Reservoir.

April 17, 2014
Water striders hunt by sensing ripples

With an appetite for vulnerable insects crossing aquatic surfaces, the water strider, also known as “Gerridae,” inhabits calm-watered terrains where it prowls for submerging prey in ponds, lakes and marshes.

Because of the water strider’s lean-lengthened structure and the micro-hairs on its body, this buoyant insect has a unique capability for striding water. This bodily shape specifically designates its long legs for suspending the abdomen from touching the water, while its micro-hairs repel the water from weighing itself down. In fact, water striders have an estimated one thousand micro-hairs per millimeter on their bodies, where as various other species can have from one to 36 micro-hairs per millimeter.

Just as spiders use their webs as signifiers, the water strider does the same thing by feeling the ripples of water sent forth from drowning prey. When the signal is given, water striders scramble so they can get there first and eat all the prey, and they prefer their prey to be alive.

Striders pursue, stab and then suck out the insect’s inside juices with their proboscises. A water strider’s appetite preference includes bees, spiders, mosquito larvae and other strider larvae.

Some water striders are capable of emitting a scent that repels fish. Water striders are air-breathing insects, so if they are forced or stranded underwater, they will drown. These insects are also called “water skaters,” “water skeeters,” “water skimmers,” “water scooters,” “water spiders,” “magic bugs” and “water bugs.”

 

Addie T. Lindsay is 17 years old. She is an accomplished writer and photographer of wildlife creatures, big and small. She can be reached at CritterChatter@Live.com.

 

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